Cafe Rio opens

“Put on your party pants” says a small sign planted in Citrus Plaza advertising the newly-opened Cafe Rio.

OK.

The Utah-based restaurant opened for business Monday. I dropped in for a visit Tuesday evening.

The dcor was inviting, with punched tin mirrors and lampshades and colorful crackle-paint furniture.

The restaurant was packed. Every table was filled. The line, however, was fairly short.

As I stepped into the ordering line, I was mesmerized by the rotating grill on which one of the employees was cooking fresh tortillas. Yum!

I ordered a grilled chicken burrito, which was made right in front of me and dropped onto a conveyor belt to be heated in a small oven.

It was a decent enough burrito, but at $7.25, I was expecting perhaps a little something extra.

For that price, I could get seven Beefy Crunch burritos over at Taco Bell, or 14 bean and cheese burritos at Del Taco, and still have change left over. Not that I would want to, mind you.

For a closer comparison, Chipotle’s grilled chicken burrito will set you back $5.85.

As I moved toward the register the dozen or so employees in the kitchen sang a song to first-time diners behind me in line.

Whew…dodged that bullet!

My dining companion remarked that it was like Cold Stone Creamery meets Chevy’s Fresh Mex.

Probably a better deal for the budget-conscious is to try one of their daily specials.

Here’s what you’ll find:

Monday: Chile rellenos
Tuesday: Coconut shrimp tacos
Wednesday: Chicken tostada salad
Thursday: Pork or chicken tamales
Friday: Grilled steak or chicken fideo
Saturday: Fish or fried shrimp taco

For instance, the Tuesday deal was $5.95 for one taco, rice, beans and a soda, or $8.95 if you want two tacos.

I’ll return in a couple of weeks when the hoopla dies down a little and see how things are progressing.

Have you been to Cafe Rio this week? How was your experience? Let us know below.

2 thoughts on “Cafe Rio opens

  1. I was at the Redlands Cafe Rio when the doors opened the first day. I love this place. The grilled chicken is good…but you really need to try the sweet barbacoa pork (salad or burrito)…so Good! Yes the price is a bit higher than many similar restaurants, but I think the quality and the portions (many perfect for 2 people to share) make up for it.

    Btw: if you have kids they will give you a free kids quesadilla with each paying adult, that can be a real savings.

  2. Chris:

    Thanks for your comments.

    As you can tell, I was a little put off by the price, which is at least a buck and a quarter more than their closest competitors (Qdoba/Chipotle). They do offer some cheaper options and I’m looking forward to trying both their tamale and fish taco specials. And thanks for the tip about the kids’ quesadilla.

    Clearly, the sweet barbacoa pork is the star of the show at Cafe Rio. Several signs advertise the “award-winning” pork and the workers instinctively ask if that’s what you want in your burrito. It’s also less expensive than either the grilled chicken or steak options.

    I’m willing to cut them some slack since they’re new, which is why I didn’t do this as a full-on “First Bites” review. I’ll let things simmer down a bit before making a return visit.

    Thanks again!

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